Artist Rebecca Love presents a collection of life masks that tell visual stories and share the culture of her subjects. View by visiting her website.
It all began in a small southern town in Mississippi. My tiny hands plunged themselves into the dirt, mixing it with water—I had just created mud that told stories!
Thus, my love for creating art began. Not much has changed today. I still play, sculpt and carve in that simple substance called clay which commands my respect and inspires my hands to use it to tell stories.
The clay life masks I create tell delightful stories from the lives of the most interesting characters. My most fulfilling art adventure was the experience I had with a beautiful group of women in Nairobi, Kenya. As a result of my many travels to this ancient part of the world, I became a storyteller for these exotic tribal women.
It was a privilege to have their trust in my artful hands as I took impressions of their faces. Each let me capture their image with this white dripping material in a calm and trusting way.
I so love to tell their stories to those who view my art. They are mothers, wives, sisters, deserved Kenyan princesses, basket weavers, artful sewers and so much more. The colors of their culture, the music of the nation and the stories in their lives bring life to my work.
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We became women who inspired each other across the world. They giggled quite happily when they saw their own life masks for the first time. Permission was granted to use various tribal decorations found in Kenyan and other African cultures. My heart was warmed by their acceptance.
I use different techniques to implement design and color. Underglazes are brushed on the clay to give a painted watercolor effect. I use a technique called sgraffito, scratching and carving through the underglazes to bring forth a design in the clay body. Sgraffito originated in Italy in the tenth century and literally means “to scratch.”
Many of my designs are inspired by the tribal decoration found in Kenya and other African cultures. There is no limit to the natural materials I can add to the masks.
Dried accoutrements surrounding the images on the masks are gathered either locally or brought home from various journeys. They are then dried and carefully wired on to each mask.
When shows and festivals are scheduled once again, I will happily be presenting this work to a joyful public and traveling back to my beloved Kenya to see my family. In the meantime, my hands and heart remain loyal to the mud and that tribal call.
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